Deep Sleepers 7/1: Ten Sleeper Hitters To Target In Your Deep Leagues

The thing with sleepers is that in general, they don’t wake up quickly, and waiting for a sleeping person to wake up can be pretty boring.  Therefore a true sleeper...

The thing with sleepers is that in general, they don’t wake up quickly, and waiting for a sleeping person to wake up can be pretty boring.  Therefore a true sleeper requires a patient owner who’s willing to tough it out, and it can also be boring to tout the same sleepers as they continue to trudge through their offensive inertia. So instead of doting on the progress or lack thereof of the sleepers I mentioned in last week’s article, here are ten more all-new sleepers, though their sleeper-ness varies on league depth.

That being said, If you took a gamble on Kendrys after my last post, I am quite happy for you.  Good job, fellow reader!

1. Cheslor Cuthbert (3B, KC) – It appears Cheslor Cuthbert is now more than just a cool name.  But, like, the name is still his best attribute and always will be. He’s hit 5 HR over the month of June (7 on the year) and now has a .273 Batting Average as well.  His old scouting reports said he has the physical upside to be a star, and it simply hadn’t been translated into production until his torrid Triple-A campaign this year at 23 years of age.  The gig is his for the year, but he’s underowned due to his ho-hum start and bad lineup spot.  Trust him, and don’t cuth the ches.

2.  Whit Merrifield – (2B, KC) – The only thing Merrifield has in common with Cuthbert is that they are Royals who sounds like an 18th century nobility.  Unlike Cuthbert, Merrifield was never a highly regarded or even mediumly regarded prospect, but he has reportedly overhauled his swing and it shows.  His 38.3% Hard Hit % and his 13.9% Soft Hit % are among the best in baseball, and he has 30 SB ability as well.  He’s probably the least sleeper-y of these sleepers in that he’s been hitting so well, but remains a sleeper in the sense that many still view him as a flash in the pan when it seems he’s actually a good bet to keep producing.  If he’s owned, it would be Whitty to see if his owner is Merri to field offers on him for more established names. 

3.  Logan Morrison (1B, TB) – If you play in a league for players with a category for backpfeifengesicht, a German compound word roughly translating to  “face in need of a fist”, Morrison’s your guy.  As much as I don’t like him, his batted ball velocity has been steadily rising all year and above league average since May 15th.  HIs season numbers still look bad, but his April was so god-awful that it’s actually quite impressive he’s brought it up that far, and he’s been hitting .345 over the past week.  I would advise trading him during a hot streak though, since he has shown how ice cold his cold streaks can be.

4.  Aaron Hicks (OF, NYY) – This trade has not been a complete flop for the Yankees by virtue of J.R. Murphy toiling away in the minors, while Kurt Suzuki, yes Kurt Suzuki, has run away with the starting gig.  Yet Hicks has still been a massive disappointment.  But eternal hopefuls should take solace in this; Hicks has maintained his plate discipline gains from last year, even though his exit velocity has declined.  From the batted ball distribution, it appears Hicks has been trying to take advantage of the short porch, seeing as he’s pulling the ball a career-high 46.1% of the time, and with a solid fb rate of 34.9%.  Pulled fly balls have the best outcomes, but perhaps with his sub-par raw power, he’d be better served spraying to all fields.  Depending on whether or not he does, either his average or his power will improve, maybe even both.  But I wouldn’t expect stolen bases at this point, so temper your expectations.  Only for very deep leagues or ones with a bench spot, but you probably knew that already.

5.  Yonder Alonso (1B, OAK) – But soft contact, what lightly hit balls through Yonder’s window breaks?  It is the A’s, and Alonso has stunk.  But!  If you’re in a deep league, you should know that his batted ball profile suggests he should be stinking less!  Instead of 1 home run, he should have hit 4 to 5!  Wow!  But really, the disparity between his actual ISO and xISO is tops in either league, and he has hit for solid average since his awful April, so you could do worse if you need a corner infield live body who won’t hurt you (basically, the opposite of a zombie).

6. Yasmany Tomas (OF, ARZ) – Okay, I understand if you hesitated on picking up Tomas in your mixed league when you looked back in trepidation on his piddling 2015 stat line with just 9 Homers, but if you didn’t already blow your chance, go get him.  His 41.6% Hard contact rate is elite and a more than 10% jump from his 2015 mark, and he’s improved his walk rate while keeping his strikeout rate steady.  Not only that, but he decreased his GB rate by 7% and gave it to his FB rate… a good thing as a slow running slugger in Arizona.  Also he’s 25 and his exit velocity is good, so wait no mas and pick up Tomas.

7.  Jayson Werth (OF, WAS) – After his lousy, injury plagued 2015, Werth has been suffering from “Forgotten Old Man Syndrome” (FOMS) and has gone unowned in many leagues.  Which is a shame, because his power is still there and a good walk rate to boot. As long as he can stay healthy, a solid average and 10 HR makes him an undervalued commodity.

8.  Michael Taylor (OF, WAS) – Taylor sure lost a lot of his hype when that batting average continued to hover dangerously close above the Mendoza line.  But Taylor has been hitting the ball considerably harder since the start of May, and while his K and BB rates are dangerously heading in the wrong direction, his slightly improved swing rates indicate that this should correct itself.  He’s the guy you need for power and speed but if you need AVG or OBP, let him free.  

9.  Derek Dietrich – (2b, MIA) – I’d imagine a “dietrich” consists of beluga caviar in truffle oil.  But Derek is more of an onion that is surprisingly not rotten after two months hiding in your fridge.  While his high average has been fluky, so has the low power, as he’s hit only 3 home runs this year.  Now 26, he’s finally getting the chance for a full-time gig and he could hit 5-7 homers during the second half with a palatable average, which isn’t too shabby for a second baseman who’s largely unowned.

10.  Kirk Nieuwenhuis (OF, MLW) – There are many reasons to not like Kirk Nieuwenhuis, among them being not wanting to spell out his last name.  Also, his Chris Carterian K rate without the Chris Carterian home run production.  He can be a sneaky play in deep OBP leagues though, as his 14.5% BB rate is more than double his 2015 mark.  His bold strategy:  Swing less at everything.  Since he does hit the ball hard when he makes contact (Hard Hit rates over 40%), he’s a poor man’s 3-true-outcomes guy with a dash of speed.

Ben Pernick is a die-hard fantasy baseball fan living in New York City.  In his non-baseball life, Ben is a comedy singer/songwriter and stand-up comic.  Ben also sports a 1.000 OBP and a 1.714 SLG% over 7 AB in his recreational softball league and he wants you to know about it.

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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